Tag Archives: Kathleen Wynne

Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

Posted September 26, 2015

By Gerry Barker

Inside the thoughts of Pope Francis – Building a wall between Canada and the U. S. – Kathleen Wynne absolves her deputy – U.S. Conservative movement hits the wall – Ontario’s teacher’s half strike

 

 Imagining the Pope’s inner thoughts visiting America

“Hey! Who ordered that Fiat 500 for my visit to America? I can barely get into the thing.

“Man! There are a lot of cops around me. Is something up?

“The President sure has nice kids, the missus is pretty nice too.

“Whew! I could use an Expresso pick-me-up after that scary ride into Washington.

“Speaking of that, is there a bottle of Vermouth in the glove compartment? Just to settle my stomach after that lunch in the White House.

“Mama Mia! All those trumpets blaring away when I arrived at the White House. Good thing I took the hearing aides out.

“Didn’t know I spoke Italian, did you?

“My hands are so sore from all that handshaking. Maybe I should ask Queen Elizabeth her secret to avoid sore hands.

“You know, I’d really like to ride in one of those big Secret Service Chevrolets so I could put my feet up and relax.

“So many masses, gotta take it easy on the sacramental wine.

“Like I said, I don’t like red slippers. A pair of white Nike walkers would be nice. Who do they think I am, Michael Jordan?

“Help me God to learn English and speak it without sounding like Che Guvara.

“Holy Christmas, look at all those big buildings!

“Praise be to those who built St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

“Hey, I’m getting a little comfy in the Fiat.

“While I’m in New York, is it possible to get a hot Pastrami on rye with a kosher dill pickle at the Carnegie deli?

“Who are the New York Yankees, a new rock band?

“I saw a billboard about ‘Kinky Boots, the musical’. What’s that all about?

“Lord, save me from those bagpipes, I hear them in my sleep, when I get some time off.

“We’re on our way to Philadelphia. Pilot fly around that Statue of Liberty again, I missed my shot the first time.

“Tonight, I’m soaking my hands and feet in extra virgin olive oil to loosen them up for the two million coming to see me in Philadelphia.

“Ah, Alitalia, my home away from home and with a good supply of single malt scotch.”

“Thank you Lord for another good day, Amen.”

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Keystone is dead; let’s build a wall between the U.S. and Canada, eh!

Some 41 per cent of Americans said in a Bloomberg poll, this week, that there should be a wall between Canada and the United States. Gee, I didn’t know they were still mad at us about burning down the White House in the War of 1812.

Of the 1,100 Americans polled, 41 per cent said there should be a wall. The greatest number of respondents came from the southern states. I would have thought by now that those southerners would have built a wall along the Mason Dixon line. At least politically, that’s the bastion of Evangelic Christians, those who don’t believe in the rights of women’s health.

This bunch of tea party supporters elect their own to Congress to shut down the U.S. government because they think it’s too big and states rights should prevail. Well there goes the “United” part of the United States of America. In their world, the racist hangover from the civil war some 150 years ago, is still there.

Not even the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives can take the divisiveness existent in the Institution. John Boehner resigned this week. He was the third in line to become president if required.

We all know about those phone calls from polling companies seeking to determine a trend in public opinion. But it’s alarming when 4 in 10 Americans believe that a wall is necessary between the two countries. What are we, frozen backs, trying to get into the states?

So, when Donald Trump says if elected, he will build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. to cost $10 billion, he’ll convince the Mexicans to pay for it. Really?

If Trump pulls off that deal it’ll remain a simple step to apply his negotiating skills to doing the same between Canada and the U.S.

Hold the phone big guy.

The wall would be 8,850 kilometers long. Oops, make that 5,487 miles for our U.S viewers. It would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. There are a few problems that need to be addressed. First, how do you build a wall across the Great Lakes? How do you build a wall along the border between Alaska and Canada through the mountains and rivers? What about the Thousand Islands along the St Lawrence River, which Island is in which country?

Why did Wisconsin Governor and Republican candidate, Scott Walker, quit the presidential campaign after agreeing the wall was a good idea? Do these people not have a clue of 148 years of peaceful co-existence between our countries? Have they any idea of the number of dual citizenships who are living in both countries? Have they ever considered the support and loyalties between the two countries for all those years in peace, the Great Depression, and three major wars?

Yet 41 per cent believe they need a wall between Canada and the U.S.

Oh well, ignorance is bliss. Pass the poutine.

*            *            *            *

The Wynne government’s political tampering won’t go away

There she goes again. The Grand Duchess  of Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne, refused to resign following a criminal investigation of her staff’s involvement in the Sudbury bye-election. Let them eat cake, she sniffed.

Her deputy chief of staff, Pat Sobara, interviewed the Liberal candidate, Andrew Olivier, prior to the February bye-election and asked him to step aside. Andrew, a quadriplegic successful businessman, ran a close second to the NDP in 2014 and planned to run again.

Ms. Sobara, called Olivier and said the party was going in a different direction and, suggested that by stepping aside, he would receive a senior job in the Liberal byzantine organization. The Premier, secretly succeeded in luring NDP MP Glenn Thibeault to join her caucus and run in the Sudbury bye-election as a Liberal.

But the skunk got into the henhouse. The would-be candidate recorded the conversations between Sobara and Olivier, because he is unable to write notes. Enter Sudbury Liberal activist, Gerry Lougheed, a wealthy funeral director and chairman of the Sudbury Police Services Board. He backed up Ms. Sobara’s job offer to persuade Olivier not to seek the Liberal nomination.

Olivier refused, ran as an independent and ended up in third place on Election Day

Police have charged Lougheed with one count of counseling an offense not committed and one count of unlawfully influencing and negotiating appointments. Translation: It’s bribery.

The question arises why was Pat Sobara, who opened the dialogue with Olivier and was recorded, not also charged along with Lougheed? Even more so, why is she still working for the Premier?

The Premier defended her staffer, the one who shaped her 2014 victory.

The police say the investigation is continuing. But this eight ball is already in the corner pocket.

*            *            *            *

Is the Republican Party having a meltdown? Ask Pogo

Okay, so the U.S. presidential election is more than a year away. But the rhetoric between the candidates is classic and funny. They remind us of Walt Kelley’s former comic strip about characters in the Okeefenokee swamp in Florida. The star was Pogo, a crafty opossum who was looked up to by his swampy pals.

The trouble with Republicans is they all want to be Pogo.

House of Representatives Speaker, John Boehner, took the high road and resigned. He announced it just a few days before his splintered caucus shuts down the government by voting against Planned Parenthood, the front line of women’s health in America.

Pogo would not be amused nor will the gaggle of Republican presidential hopefuls climbing over each other to get the job next year.

As Pogo famously remarked: “We have seen the enemy and they is us.”

*            *            *            *

Elementary teachers, without a contract, escalate job action

The failure of the Minister of Education to resolve the differences between the union of elementary teachers and the province drags on at the expense of students and their parents.

If all the other teacher unions have agreed to a new contract why haven’t the elementary teachers settled? Now the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, is caught between those settlements made in good faith with the other unions and the potential of a better contract being awarded to the elementary teachers. This opens the door to even more disputes and rancour.

When does it stop? When does peace and honest bargaining on both sides of the table bring fair contracts and better job performance? In the three years that Sandals has been the person in charge of primary and secondary education in Ontario, she has lurched from one crisis to another.

Between Kathleen Wynne and Liz Sandals, both former school board trustees, it is apparent that the only way to settle with the teachers is to pay them off. That’s what they’ve done in the last two contract negotiating cycles.

The source of all this sturm and drang is the Liberal government’s failure to invest in education. Instead the Liberals poured money into wind and solar panel farms, demolished gas plants and expensive, non-effective cyber-based schemes, which cost us millions.

What Wynne and Sandals have accomplished is a dysfunctional education system in which trust has evaporated between the province and the teachers.

Either fix it or get out of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberals dying a slow death in government?

Posted September 24, 2015

It has been 15 months since Kathleen Wynne took the Ontario Liberals to power, and the record shows it was a shallow victory.

This is a premier who has consistently failed to get the handle on managing the people’s money. She ignored the demolition of the two gas generating plants in Mississauga and Oakville that the audit showed cost the province a billion dollars.

The province has operated with a deficit for six years that now stands at $8 billion. Even with a prime lending rate of 2.5 per cent, that amounts to an annual estimated cost of $200,000,000. That’s what must be paid first before any other expenses.

We cannot run our own finances this way so why does the Ontario Liberal government get away with it? Just figuring the continued deficit the province has been running for the past seven years, and the debt load, is almost impossible to calculate. Those deficits drive up the provincial debt which in turn increases the annual costs of running Canada’s largest province, by population.

And yet, Ontario Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, keeps saying the deficit will be gone by 2017. Maybe he should call former Prime Minister, Paul Martin, who knows how to cut costs and balance the books.

One keeps thinking about the former Montreal Mayor Drapeau stating that chances of the cost of the Olympics exceeding the budget, was eqivalent to man having a baby. Well, we know how that turned out.

After the McGuinty years of making bad deals to restructure Ontario Hydro, Wynne inherited a financial mess that only David Copperfield could make disappear.

It’s a carefully coordinated illusion that has driven electricity rates to among the highest in North America. It was caused by deals made with private industry to build wind farms, solar panel farms and renovate aging nuclear plants. These decisions, each given 20-year guarantees in many cases, of 20 cents per kilowatt hour, has exponentially driven up the retail cost of supplying power to homes and businesses.

These sources now generate too much power that cannot be stored, that Ontario sells to U.S. jurisdictions at a loss. This is voodoo management at its best.

The beer sale fiasco

The latest fiasco is the new scheme of marketing beer in Ontario. With great fanfare the Wynne government has said that beer will be available in a select group of major supermarkets by Christmas. Left out was the supply would be rationed to those selected stores and only six packs would be available. By rationing, there is a quota and if it exceeded, there will be fines. There is no provision in this new arrangement for outlets to set prices according to the market. The consumer has no opportunity to shop for a better price. This is another example of supply side management by our own government. The price is set and the consumer has to pay.

The six-pack rule also applies to the LCBO outlets. Only the famed Canadian 24 is available at the Beer Store. Remember them? Molson- Coors (U.S), Ambrew (Belgium), Sapporo (Japan), own the Beer Stores in Ontario. Outside of the LCBO outlets, the Beer Stores have the exclusive right to sell beer in Ontario and fix the prices.

So this deal was about distribution of beer, not the competitive marketing of beer. If you can buy 24 cans of Molson Canadian in Quebec for $24 why not in Ontario, where the product is brewed? Same beer, same packaging and is available throughout Quebec in stores, gas stations, and supermarkets at competitive prices.

Why was the premier afraid to allow the free sale and distribution of beer in Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario? It’s all about the money. She needs every penny she can find to pay for past terrible financial decisions that have almost destroyed manufacturing in the province.

The automobile plants in the province are constantly negotiating financial assistence to stay. They’ve all bellyed up to the trough to get funding with the dire threat of moving to Mexico where operating costs are much lower.

The one area that one would believe is the premier’s strength lies in the province’s education system. In 2013, just after winning the Ontario Liberal Leadership, she and her fellow school trustee, Liz Sandals, paid off the teacher’s unions with $463 million to settle the work-to-rule tactics being employed by the disgruntled unions.

Most of those union contracts expired nine months ago. Education Minister, Liz Sandals, has failed to settle contracts with one of the largest, the Elementary School Teachers of Ontario. The other unions accepted an offer of cumulated 2.5 per cent plus increased benefits, including sick days and professional days.

Yet, with a straight face, both Wynne and Sandals said the increases were “net zero” in terms of budgeting. What both failed to say was what programs would be chopped to provide that “net zero” demand from more than 250,000 teachers in the province.

If you cannot get the teachers to work, why do we need a Minister of Education?

A strategic political alignment?

With the public discord over Kathleen Wynne’s stewardship of our province, why would federal Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau, tie his tale (sic) to Wynne? Undoubtedly she is a good campaigner but her performance as premier has negated that shill (sic) set.

Trudeau desperately needs winning seats on Ontario. But tying up with Wynne is not going to encourage Liberals to support him, based on that association and her performance.

The governing Ontario Liberals are dying from overburdening debt, mismanagement, operational costs and misguided policies.

With friends like that, Mr. Trudeau should ask, who needs enemies?

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